The Essential Guide to Using a Cigar Punch

Picture of Justin R.
Justin R.

Cigar Enthusiast, Chief Editor

how to use a cigar punch
Table of Contents

A stubborn cigar cap is often one of the few things that stands between a cigar aficionado and the sweet taste of pure tobacco.

How best to get through that layer of leaf is a topic of heated debate, and you can find a wealth of opinions on what’s best all over the internet. The clean cut of a cigar punch is my personal favorite, and it couldn’t be easier to use. 

The Nitty Gritty Of How to Use a Cigar Punch

Using a cigar punch is easy to cut through a cigar’s cap. Properly using a cigar punch is not tricky, but a particular technique makes the process easier, yielding a better result. 

how to use cigar punch step-by-step

Inspect Twice, Punch Once 

Before you begin, you need to take a good look at your cigar. The cap is the keystone of the cigar’s wrap, and if you punch too deep or punch out too much, you might risk the cigar unwrapping. Even expensive cigars can have thin caps; it will depend on the individual roller and the individual tobacco leaf used. 

Take a good look at the cap and judge if there is a lot of leaf there or just a bit. If there is more leaf, you will need to push the punch deeper; if it is a thinner leaf, you will only need to punch in a bit. 

Full Speed Ahead

Once you know what you’re up against, it’s time to punch. 

A fine cigar is a work of art; no one wants to ruin the experience before it’s even lit. Fear not; even if you push too hard or push at a weird angle, it is tough to damage a cigar and nearly impossible to destroy one with a cigar punch. 

To punch the cigar:

  • Take the cigar in your non-dominant hand and the punch in your dominant hand. 
  • Line up the cigar punch with the centerline of the cigar; it doesn’t need to be perfect, but the closer, the better. 
  • Push the punch into the back of the cigar. Try to use just enough force to get the metal of the punch through the leaf, but not so much that you squash the cigar in your hands. This will take practice, but try a ‘less is more’ approach until you get a feel for it. 
  • While you push the punch in, twist the cigar in your hand to help the punch through the leaf. You don’t need to rotate it completely; back and forth a bit will be enough.
  • Once you are through the leaf, you should feel the resistance decrease. This means you have reached the delicious tobacco inside, and we don’t want to lose any of that if possible. 
  • Slowly pull the punch out of the cigar and admire your handiwork. You should have a beautiful, round cut through the leaf with the filler tobacco visible inside. 

It’s as easy as that. Your first few punches might not be the most beautiful, but your skills will improve dramatically after a few tries. Remember that every punch is different, so no matter what, it will take a few tries to get the hang of it.

Common Mistakes

A cigar punch is an easy tool to use, but cigars are a delicate product. Each cigar will present unique challenges, but none that can’t be overcome. 

Watch out for putting too much pressure on the punch. You don’t need to use all your strength or even much strength at all. A cigar punch is a tool where finesse is superior to power. If you feel resistance, try rotating the cigar more rather than pushing harder.

Another issue might arise if the leaf is too dry. Improper storage could lead to drying out and possibly difficult to rehydrate cigar since the leaf will crack or unravel when you try to punch it. This is challenging, but try to be as gentle as possible and listen for the cracking sound. If you hear it, lay off the pressure.

Some first-time punchers worry about punching the hole at the wrong angle. While it might look odd, and more seasoned cigar fans might judge your skills, punching at an odd angle won’t ruin the cigar. As long as the cigar doesn’t unwrap, it is still smokable, and there is no need to waste a cigar just because the hole is a bit off. 

But is the Cigar Punch The Best?

Amongst any group of cigar smokers, the best way to cut a cigar is a bar fight waiting to happen. Everyone, and I mean everyone, has their two cents on what is best. There are different ways on how to cut a cigar and the cigar punch is only one of several ways to cut through a cigar’s cap. 

Here is a comparison of three major styles. 

Cutting StyleAdvantagesDisadvantages 
Straight CutClassic, classy, refined. It’s the way your grandfather cut his cigars and why change what isn’t broken. It is a perfect way to get rid of the cap, and there are few things cooler than wielding a small, finger sized guillotine. Knowing exactly where to cut the cigar takes a bit of practice, and the inexperienced often end up wasting tobacco.
V CutA unique cut, cool, a step apart from many cigar smokers. Some claim it enhances the flavor, giving you the best of the straight cut and the punch with an added coolness factor. Many brands and makes of V cutters are low quality or break easily. This type of cut requires a high-quality cutter or the end result will just be a mangled cigar. 
PunchEasy, simple, clean result. Some claim it improves flavor and brings out nuances in the tobacco.None, really. 

A Matter of Style 

While cigar smokers may debate which style of cigar cuts they prefer, the real answer is a personal one. Cigars are all about style, refinement, and ritual. How you smoke a cigar will be unique to you, and that’s the best part. 

As you dive deeper into the world of cigars, you will make the practice your own; you will develop your ritual, way of cutting it, method of lighting it, and your tastes and preferences. This is what cigars are all about, which is why people pick up a Cohiba or a stogie rather than a pack of cigarettes. 

Here is a chance to experiment, innovate, appreciate, and enjoy. 

cigar punch styles comparison

Connect and Enjoy

Whether you punch, cut, or bite off the end of your cigar, Cigar Amigo is your resource for the world of cigars. Here you can find all manner of guides, reviews, advice, and community around this most cultured of tobacco products. Stick around to dive deeper and in the meantime, light up a beautiful cigar of your favorite brand, sit back, and enjoy.